Starting over….again

About a week ago I watched a short video online giving a summary of the Qur’an in two sentences. The first sentence is “Accept Allah as master and accept yourself as slave.” This is a really tough one for me because I don’t like to think of myself as a slave. Everyone – even in the most dire circumstances – wants to feel they have choice and self determination. But I think this idea of accepting yourself as slave goes beyond our historical concept of the word. For me it is about not just worshipping only Allah, but accepting the tests you are given in life and learning to embrace your own path. Sometimes choice is about how you react to something and how you learn from it. Which is very easy to write, but very hard to do.

Just after I watched that video, I read a blog from a woman describing one of those days where you just want to mourn your losses and shut out the world. However, she ends on a beautifully positive note describing a nice cup of tea and giving it ‘another try.’

I highlight these pieces as I feel a little bit like the rug has been pulled out from under me, that the bottom has fallen out of my life. The specifics of what has happened are not important, and to be fair it is something I probably knew in my heart to be true and even right. But it is different to think something might be the truth compared to actually confirming it.

Bottom line, I feel like I am starting my life from scratch again. I have absolutely no idea where my life is headed, personally or professionally. And I don’t know where to start. Honestly, I am just too old for this.

But I know I have a choice. I can choose to accept that this is the path that Allah (swt) has given me and embrace it. I can choose to give it another try. I can choose not to be angry at my situation, and not to throw people out of my life because they are not going to play the role in my life that I wanted them.

So, where to I begin?

The Beautiful Qur’an

And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant [Muhammad], then produce a Surah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allah, if you should be truthful (Qur’an 2:23)

All I can say is that anybody who listens to and recites the Qur’an cannot believe this was anything that came from man. It is beautiful, soothing….. transcendent. Amazing.

When I first reverted, however, I did not think I needed to or would ever be able to read the Qur’an in Arabic. There were English interpretations available and I did not grow up reciting the Qur’an. So how – at my age and with my busy schedule – could I ever learn how to read the Qur’an.

However, as I learned a few prayers in Arabic and downloaded an electronic version of the Qur’an where I could listen to people reciting it, I knew I had to learn.

At first I tried to teach myself using apps but I was completely lost. I did not even know where to begin. Then I found an Arabic alphabet app.  But even as I learned the symbols for the letters, when I saw a word, I did not recognise anything! I finally found an app that showed me how the letters alone differed from letters in word. (Alhamdulilah! I was not crazy!)

But the turning point was when I moved to London. A close friend helped me find a place where I could study the Qur’an. I completed the introductory course where I learned the alphabet and the basics of recitation. I passed the class! And now I am taking the next level.

If I am honest, I have to admit that my recitation is complete rubbish. But as with everything….I keep trying.

My goal after recitation classes is to begin to learn the meaning of the words and perhaps some of the subtleties  of the linguistics. I realise this may be a bit too ambitious, but the beauty of the Qur’an compels me. I want to learn everything I can. In Sha Allah. It may take quite some time and perhaps I will not get as far as I would like… but who knows. 🙂

The rise and fall of the revert

In my reading, I often come across the statistic that within three years of converting to Islam, about 75% leave the faith. I may not have the statistic exactly right – but it is along these lines. I am also not sure where this statistic comes from or how it is calculated.

But I do wonder…. even if number is only approximate, why do so many people leave? And do they really stop believing or is it that they go back into the ‘Islamic closet’ permanently.

From time to time I ask myself if this will this happen to me?

There are definitely times when I feel frustrated, sad and alone. I wonder, who would know if I changed my mind? Stopped praying. Stopped learning. Stopped searching. Called a friend to go out for a glass of wine and a plate of prosciutto.

No one would know.

But me.

And Allah (SWT).

So, what do I do when these times hit me?

I think about what I truly believe: La ilaha illa Allah wa Muhammad rasul Allah.

Then I do salah, make dua and perhaps read a bit of the Qur’an.

And I know – simply – that this is who I am. Really……its who I have always been, it just took me a while to figure it out.

So, two years and two months from now will I feel the same? In 10 years and 10 months? Insha Allah.

Why do you think some reverts stay committed for the rest of their lives and some leave after a few years?

And what can we do to change this statistic of 75% who leave within three years?

%d bloggers like this: